atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#5512: Reused.

Well, SpaceX has done it. They launched a satellite with a booster which was previously recovered, and then successfully recovered the booster again.

This is how you make space access cheap: instead of throwing away your launch vehicles after one use, you build them to be reused. Getting even one more use out of a booster will have a drastic effect on your costs.
He [Elon Musk] believes the company has a clear path to his goal for the Falcon 9 rocket, however, a 24-hour turnaround from launch to landing to launch, with no maintenance. He believes the final version of the Falcon 9 optimized for reuse, set to fly late this year or early in 2018, will be capable of 10 flights "with no refurbishment," and 100 flights with "moderate refurbishment." 24-hour turnarounds should come by next year.
This is actual real reusability, not the fake reusability of the Space Shuttle, which required overhauling between flights.

The rest of the American aerospace community (AKA "Boeing") would prefer to continue to sell one-use-only boosters, because that's a proven money-maker. But we've known since before the Apollo days that reusing boosters is the best way to make access to space cheap, and furthermore that doing so was basically an incremental cost to the operation of the launch system once you have reliable recovery of intact boosters.

SpaceX has proven that--at least for low Earth orbit launches--recovery is technically challenging but not impossible, certainly not economically...and the result is a booster that can be recovered and re-launched, saving at least 70% of the cost of the second launch. So, one rocket, two launches, 130% of the cost of a single launch...what's not to like?

And as the turnaround time improves and they get better at recoveries--well, take Musk's "10 launches without refurbishment" figure, for example. Ten launches, 370% of one launch...as opposed to the legacy systems, where ten launches cost 1,000% of one launch.

Consider that--in 1917--making a nonstop flight across an ocean was impossible. Then someone did it, having to risk his life to do so. It gradually became more commonplace and less risky as time went on and the technology improved. Today, hundreds of flights are made across oceans every day with negligible loss of life.

So, yeah: spaceflight is more technically challenging than flying an airplane halfway around the world, but the technical challenges are not insurmountable. SpaceX is proving that.

* * *

The first item in last night's AoSHQ's Overnight Open Thread illustrates the importance of grammar and punctuation. Pretty sure the girl holding that sign is not there to advocate for more rape, but her sign sure does.

One of the things Mrs. Fungus and I are doing to pass time is reading a book about the Roman Emperors. (I read it aloud and answer her questions about things. My wife loves it when I "mansplain".) The book is an older one, and the writer(s) apparently didn't like commas very much. Several times I've found myself stumbling over a sentence which desperately needed a comma, and didn't have it.

Further along in the thread, they started talking about misleading movie descriptions.
Wizard of Oz:
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.
Heh.

* * *

Today would have been Mom's 90th birthday. I'm going to get a blueberry pie for dessert, after dinner.
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